Well, having included some anime movies in the anime recommendations thread. I think I'll try to limit my suggestions to live-action for this one....... God this is tough....[:cry:]
So, let me start of by saying that I am biased. I prefer animation over live action for big productions. Why? Well, part of it is the high degree of symmetry for most animated characters combined with a good pairing of music which keeps my brain occupied and form stronger memories to the scene and the emotional tone that can be so hard to get in a live action film. In addition, it takes a lot of effort to put an animated feature together. Granted, computers have made it easier. However, effort is extremely important since if the movie's a flop....no one will want you to do the animation any other movie, you lose a dedicated fanbase, and create a stain on the careers of everyone involved that will haunt them for the rest of their days in the field. Live action? Maybe but its a lot less. Take Adam Sandler's movies. I can't remember any of the early ones but at the time I guess they got decent reviews.....and then it went from mediocre to trying to think of any excuse to get out of the film. I guess you could say weak premise + no innovation + a good advertising firm = a flop....a belly-flop....into a pool with no water, but instead of that being the merciful end to the audiences sufferings the actor and studio get up and try the exact same formula again, and again, and again until you start to wonder if the only reason they're still in business is that the premise of "The Producers" works for them. For those unfamiliar with the premise, and having not seen the full movie or play, is that an accountant lets it slip to producer that its possible to make more money with a Broadway flop than a Broadway hit because the money taken in isn't enough to be taxed, at least not at such a high rate which means a higher profit margin. And given how much more complicated the US of A's tax code has become since this production's inception, its possible to make even more money! Why? Because uncle Sam likes it when you hire x-number of people, or spends y-amount on a particular kind of camera or technique or lots of other possible things lobbyists have worked in there.
Now that I've got that little rant out of my system, ignoring the rage I feel now that Michale Bay has destroyed all my benefit of the doubt with the latest movie(s), I'm going to try to list a few that are good in my opinion.
#1. Pacific Rim, finally a giant monster movie done right. 1998 Godzilla......I refer you to the Nostalgia Critic's review of it. He can do a much better job at I blowing sky-scraper sized holes in it than I can. Cloverfield......Blaire Witch project with aliens..... and it makes so little sense...honestly nothing is explained, there's no clear set-up to the events in the tape and one hell of a depressing ending after sitting through about 2hrs+/- of blood, death, and human suffering. Not only was it depressing there was no conclusion, we are left with no set-up as to what the world is like now that its over with. One big huge flaw being is that if a nuke hit wouldn't the e.m.p fry the memory of the digital camera or mess up with the magnetics if its a vhs tape at that close range? However, Pacific Rim does it right, they give you a set up, maybe a bit protagonist heavy but it doesn't ruin the show. You see the before, how things took of turn for the worst, and then a triumphant change in humanity's favor all of humanity coming together and pooling resources for the survival of the human race while maintaining at least some semblance of normality prior to the change. It has its plot holes, but they aren't so huge they ruin it...at least not the 1st time watching it I think.
#2. Suckerpunch, this movie....is a bit of a head trip. I think that's the pg-13 version of saying it anyway. I suppose it could be described as matrix + inception, but no where near as confusing or make you think. Message at the end, not as good as I had hoped, nor was the ending going it, but that's what they were going for, every few minutes when you think you've got it figured out, it changes and makes you wonder a bit in a different direction. Unfortunately the more times you see it the less it makes sense. To compensate I like the music and enjoy the set-up and execution of one or two of the scenes. However, that's purely personal preference, some people might hate the music and others might have preferred a different set-up in the scene or a different pace or style in the cinematography.
#3. I feel like I might be cheating a bit with this one, is, The Adventures of Robin Hood, staring Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland. This is a classic movie, it tells a story that has been told and told again in many different ways. I regret to say I have not read the source book yet. However, it captures the heroic idealism without making it childish as many movies tend to do. The good guy kills, but he does so honorably at least when necessity doesn't dictate otherwise. The hero acts with a great deal of bravado in nearly all his actions as well. Instead of making too over the top, with the right tone, they show the cost of such hubris. Yet, 90% of the time, he's absolutely right, when he threatens to kill someone with in a jovial tone having seen some of the stuff you lose yourself in the illusion. This isn't someone pretending to be the greatest archer in England, this is someone you will prove it to you with ease and finality if necessary. The gravity of the situation is revealed by him in one relatively(censors and individual standards) intimate scene, and as soon as he is away from the doom and gloom of the suffering peasantry he quickly returns to that great well of optimistic confidence.
Well, those are my 3 suggestions along with a little critique/rant along with them. I hope you don't mind. Hopefully this helps generate some conversation.